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17 November 2012 @ 03:43 pm
Replies to SFWA's YA/MG group  
I told SFWA's YA/MG special interest group that I would not derail their discussion further by continuing to talk there about why they're restricting the group. They've made their decision and they don't want to re-hash it, and I understand that.

It's awkward now, though, because I've had a few responses to my original post there. To answer those responses would be to continue a discussion they don't want. To not answer allows their assumptions about me and other SFWA members to go unchallenged. So I'm going to respond here, where they don't have to be bothered by it unless they actively seek it out.

I just got a mostly polite response from a writer who said that she spends enough time teaching writing already, and just needs time to hang out with her peers. That assumes that I and other SFWA-qualified-but-not-yet-YA-published authors want to join the group because we want or expect active teaching on their part. Actually, I just wanted to read the posts, and planned to respond only if I felt I had something in particular to contribute. I certainly did not intend to ask someone to recommend me to their agent, or to tell me how to break into YA, or to tell me how to write a query letter, or to explain what YA is.

I had also gotten a snarky response from someone who has a reputation as a bit of an ass. He told me with false and sarcastic humility that even though he's published xyz amount of YA, he was satifisfied just to be there and listen to and learn from the experts, whereas I wanted to whine about why they don't consider me an equal. However, if they had let me simply listen to and learn from the experts in the first place -- in an organization for which I've already jumped through the membership hoops and for which I pay the same dues he does -- I wouldn't have had reason to post my objections to their exclusinoary policy in the first place. (In the interests of full disclosure, I repsonded to that post by saying that I had asked a question, gotten an answer, apologized for not knowing where to find the information myself, said thank you, and said I was dropping it. I did that because I thought his would be the last response to my post. But once I got another response, the more polite one from the other author, I decided that I would respond here if I felt the need.)

Ironically, the snarky author had already annoyed some of the others in the group by asking the very type of YA-101 question they wanted to avoid. It's a question I wouldn't have needed to ask because I read a whole lotta YA genre fiction.

They claim to have wanted a safe place to have their discussions, which I guess means a place they won't be badgered by their fellow SFWA members. Because of their exclusionary policy, with which a lot of people have expressed disagreement, they do feel badgered. But they don't seem to understand the irony that they created the very "badgerment" themselves.
sandramcdonald: sunflowersandramcdonald on November 17th, 2012 09:54 pm (UTC)
Karma :-)
Kim: Stampkgkofmel on November 17th, 2012 10:34 pm (UTC)
It's awkward now, though, because I've had a few responses to my original post there. To answer those responses would be to continue a discussion they don't want. To not answer allows their assumptions about me and other SFWA members to go unchallenged.

Is it the kind of list where you can reply direct to the sender? Because you could answer direct. Not the snarky one, that doesn't need to be dignified by an answer. But the other one, if it seems reasonable to do so.
Amy Sisson: SerenityCatamysisson on November 18th, 2012 12:12 am (UTC)
Not a bad thought, but it's pretty clear to me that a direct reply would not be welcome even to the more polite person -- and there was a bit in her post that I think was meant to be a little cutting.

All they see is "oh, this person just wants to get in the inner club and it's sour grapes." (Ironic that I do qualify via the other route, and now they're stuck with me if I choose to stay.) And I don't think I've said anything here, or can say anything, that will change their minds. Even if they finally decide that I'm not uninformed and I'm not bothering them with YA-101 questions, I think in their minds I would be an exception -- and the other SFWA-member YA-wannabees would still be assumed to be problems.
Kim: Stampkgkofmel on November 18th, 2012 12:17 am (UTC)
Well, it will be interesting to hear how it all plays out. Keep us posted.
asakiyume: wandererasakiyume on November 17th, 2012 10:59 pm (UTC)
I predict that they will find as many problems with their limited membership as they would have had if they had left the group open--for example, the 101-level questions from the snarky author.

Amy Sisson: SerenityCatamysisson on November 18th, 2012 12:14 am (UTC)
Yes. And I also saw a comment in there from someone I believe is new to the field gushing that it was the "coolest group on the net." I suspect the more experienced members probably winced at that one.
pats_quinade on November 18th, 2012 01:33 am (UTC)
Every once in awhile, I think, "Well, now that I've got a novel out, I should really rejoin SFWA." And then I read a post like this and remember why i didn't re-up my membership.
Amy Sisson: SerenityCatamysisson on November 19th, 2012 07:20 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I really regret this, because I have spent a lot of time telling people why I think SFWA membership is a good thing even if the benefits are not immediately tangible. I am really disgusted that I got no real response to my concerns from the board or a representative of the group, that they held most of their discussion about restricting the membership inside the restricted place so that objectors couldn't take part in the discussion, and that they see no problem using a portion of my dues (I don't care if it's half a penny) for activities that they've decided I'm not good enough to participate in.

Edited at 2012-11-19 07:47 pm (UTC)
Bonz: pic#13291037romulantbonz on November 18th, 2012 01:34 am (UTC)

Tribalism. The bane of humanity.
Chris McKitterick: President Obamamckitterick on November 18th, 2012 03:17 pm (UTC)
My feelings exactly. In fact, this attitude suggests that the authors who started this sub-clique are atypical of YA/MG authors, because most I know are very open and supportive of one another. I suspect this particular group is full of insecure types who feel exclusive sub-tribes make them more powerful. Sad, because this could be really useful to the rest of SFWA, especially for those currently writing such work.
Amy Sisson: SerenityCatamysisson on November 19th, 2012 07:23 pm (UTC)
I know a lot of wonderful YA/MG authors too. One of the worst parts of this was going on that list and seeing the names of people who are in the "keep those ignorant newbies the heck out!" because I have a lot less respect for them than I used to. If they were so concerned about avoiding YA-101 questions, the "welcome to the group" message could contain a reminder that "this group is intended for xyz discussion; please visit the FAQ before posting basic questions about the field". The moderator could remind anyone who doesn't abide by that. And I still maintain it would be less than they think.
Chris McKitterick: Chris Gully Foylemckitterick on November 19th, 2012 07:26 pm (UTC)
I totally agree. That's how EVERY OTHER professional organization works.

Sheesh. At first I was irritated because I'd find it useful (writing a YA novel, first of a trilogy, right now), but since have come to realize these are probably not the kind of folks with whom I'd want to associate.
Amy Sisson: SerenityCatamysisson on November 19th, 2012 07:20 pm (UTC)
Oz Whiston writing as Oz Drummondbirdhousefrog on November 18th, 2012 12:14 pm (UTC)
Wow. No wonder I've stayed out of the online forums. And yes, how ironic that they've drawn attention to themselves in the same ways they wanted to avoid. I think they should have started a group elsewhere, outside of SFWA, like SFF Novelists. I suspect most of them are already members of THAT group as well. If we all pay the same membership, how is it that they get to carve off a separate and exclusive area, using everyone's resources, without paying "section" dues?

This matter is making me rethink my membership. Or rather, adding to the list of reasons I've been rethinking it.
Amy Sisson: SerenityCatamysisson on November 19th, 2012 07:24 pm (UTC)
I agree. They should have set the group up outside of SFWA.
Jon Gibbsjongibbs on November 18th, 2012 12:34 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a very strange set-up. I'd have thought if you're a paying member of an organization, you ought to be allowed to ask pretty much anything you want on the forum.

Besides, if someone really doesn't want to answer a question, surely he/she could just ignore it.

Edited at 2012-11-18 12:35 pm (UTC)
Amy Sisson: SerenityCatamysisson on November 19th, 2012 07:25 pm (UTC)
Well, you'd first have to be allowed on the forum in order to ask a question.... The only reason I'm on it is via my book reviewing activities, and I'm sure they regret that they had to let me in the group by their own standards. I suspect they included those standards only because it would have been even more of a disaster not to mirror SFWA's original levels of membership (active, associate, affiliate).
Jon Gibbsjongibbs on November 19th, 2012 08:33 pm (UTC)
Sounds like an odd sort of group. Still, I suppose it takes all sorts :)
Patrick Samphire: runestonepsamphire on November 18th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
This is a shame. I let my SFWA membership lapse several years ago when I pretty much stopped writing adult SFF and moved to middle grade, and I do occasionally consider rejoining. But this does remind me of the stuff I didn't like about SFWA (and, to be fair, it's a part of our genre as a whole, not SFWA particularly).
Amy Sisson: SerenityCatamysisson on November 19th, 2012 07:26 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree this isn't unique to SFWA. But I was naive enough to think SFWA might be above it. Oh well.
Patrick Samphire: runestonepsamphire on November 18th, 2012 01:44 pm (UTC)
It also seems peculiar to have an exclusionary group at all. Talk about being clique-y. Not only do you have to be a YA writer, but you also have to be a member of SFWA. Bearing in mind that the vast majority of people who publish science fiction or fantasy at middle grade and YA level aren't members and have no real connection to the adult community, this can hardly seem to be representative or anything other than incestuous. Oh well.